Savage was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a catcher out of high school. He was placed in the minor leagues to develop, where he mostly played as an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox farm systems. Savage was 18 when he began playing minor league baseball; one of his teammates on the 1971 Gulf Coast League Cardinals was Larry Herndon who was also his roommate. Savage would swing a bat into a hanging car tire as a regular training exercise in order to strengthen his hands and make sure he utilized his legs during swings. The technique was so effective that Herndon adopted it and used it during his own career as a baseball coach. Savage injured his natural (right) throwing shoulder after a collision at home plate, and he learned to throw with his left arm instead. Savage's last season was 1974, when he played for the Tampa Tarpons. He played 289 games in four minor league seasons, batting . 254 with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs.